Friday, March 19, 2010

The Biblical Worldview of Basketball

I'll be the first to admit that I don't care about the current basketball tournament and all the "madness" that surrounds it. I don't even LIKE basketball. But a friend pointed out a fascinating article about the origins of basketball and its founder, Dr. James Naismith. I knew the basics of the story: James Naismith; Springfield, Massachusetts; the YMCA (back when the "C" actually stood for something!).

But in this article, the author points out Naismith's understanding of the Biblical worldview: "Christ's kingdom should include the athletic world" and "he could better exemplify the Christian life through sports than in the pulpit." (Thanks, Tom!)

As a young Christian, Naismith received a master's degree from Montreal's Presbyterian Theological College. Convinced that he could better exemplify the Christian life through sports than in the pulpit, he moved to Springfield, Mass., to serve as a physical-education instructor at the Young Men's Christian Association's International Training School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College). Naismith's vision? "To win men for the Master through the gym.". . .

Men like Naismith and Gulick sought to develop the whole person—mind, body and spirit—and the YMCA emblem, an inverted red triangle, symbolized their threefold purpose. As Gulick stated, "Christ's kingdom should include the athletic world.". . .

This was the generation of the Student Volunteer Movement which sought to reach the world for Christ "in this generation." Basketball served as an important evangelical tool for many during its first 50 years. In his 1941 book "Basketball: Its Origin and Development," Naismith wrote, "Whenever I witness games in a church league, I feel that my vision, almost half a century ago, of the time when the Christian people would recognize the true value of athletics, has become a reality."

That's what we at ACWI strive to communicate: Christ's kingdom isn't limited to Sundays and Wednesday nights - it includes art, education, business, and yes, even basketball.

You can read the entire article at

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